During recent months, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has seen modest battlefield victories. However, the ultimate success of the Syrian President may have been wearing down the resolve of some who were committed to his opponents. Some of the Syrians who risked their lives for the fight are effectively giving up.
They thought they were witnessing the chance for a new life when the protests began and took risks they had never dreamed of taking. Now, after they have lost jobs, houses, friends and relatives; suffered torture and hunger; and saw their neighborhoods destroyed, they are beginning to feel that continuing the fight is not worth the costs.
After two and a half years of fighting, people have decided to turn their backs on the opposition for many different reasons. Some are disillusioned with the growing power of Islamists among the rebels. Others are just exhausted with the conflict that shows no signs of ending anytime soon. A 28-year-old graduate student confessed that she had stopped delivering medical supplies to rebel-held towns and planning antigovernment protests.
Some are complaining of corruption among the leadership of the rebels. A rebel fighter in the Syrian city of Homs recently put down his gun, disgusted with commanders who focus on enriching themselves. Now he finds himself broke and hopeless. In a recent interview, he said, “The ones who fight now are from the side of the regime or the side of the thieves. I was stupid and naïve. We were all stupid.”
The disarray and division of the opposition was carefully exploited by the government forces, who tried to capitalize on every mistake that the opposition made. However, there remain many who vow to keep up the fight. Some have come to believe that the only way that the opposition can win is by becoming as violent and oppressive as Mr. Assad, or worse. Many citizens of Syria now have a growing sense of unease that there is no happy ending in sight for their country.